Tag Archives: building permit; building department; pole building; garage

Timbers and Steel Connectors

Many of you are by now familiar with Jim, one of the senior Building Designers at Hansen Pole Buildings. Jim is great – he has an investigative mind, so poses many marvelous questions to me, many of which are incorporated into this blog.

Today Jim asked me what I knew about a particular building system which utilizes rough sawn timbers, along with 3/16 inch thick steel connectors.

Visiting their website, I was quite impressed with the claim of, “Since 1983 xxxxx has helped
hundreds build a living, working, or storage space using rough cut lumber and xxxxx steel joinery. This alternative to trusses and conventional pole building methods, saves material, labor, equipment and money. Everyone can now build a perfect Pole Barn, Garage or Home of their very own home

And what a great list of benefits: “Eliminate trusses, makes room for a second floor, uses rough-cut 6″x6″ lumber or wood members, eliminates treated wood saving the environment, frames can be PULLED upright without a crane, frames DO NOT sit in concrete to eventually rot, frame assembly done on the ground, allows for lower eaves and higher door openings”.

On the face of everything, my first thought was – this is too good to be true! Perhaps this is a system we (Hansen Pole Buildings), should be offering to our clients.

Timbers & Steel

Timbers & Steel

When something appears to be too good to be true, there are times it is. So, out come the research caps, as we dig through the available information to determine if this is even a viable system.

A 2009 press release from the manufacturer of this particular series of products touts them as being “approved for stick-post building by the 2006 International Building Code”. In order to be approved, the product would have an ICC (International Code Council) approval number. I know we at Hansen Pole Buildings utilize numerous products in our building systems which have ICC-ES approval numbers. Luckily, ICC has provided the ability to search for approvals, and none were to be found from this particular manufacturer. Perhaps this is merely an oversight.

In the FAQs on the company website I found, “What if my code calls for 130 mph wind-loading? Can I use xxxxx? A. YES, with modifications. Our generic engineering to 80 mph is satisfactory for the vast majority of building applications, but where severe conditions exist those buildings we recommend you engage a professional engineer.”

Most consumers are unaware the minimum Building Code design wind speed in the United States is 85 miles per hour (mph) and most of the country is 90 mph or greater!

Far too many permit issuing jurisdictions do not require engineered plans to acquire building permits. Some do absolutely no plan reviews or inspections! This particular product may have a “home” for use in those areas. In areas of the country which do require more stringent plan reviews, the idea of the consumer having to hire their own engineer to prove a manufactured product is adequate for the intended use, just does not sit well with me.

Now I am not condemning this product, or ones similar to it. They may very well be the greatest thing since sliced bread – personally, without more verification being provided, I’d be inclined to avoid this one.  If you have better information than I found on it…be sure to let me know.  I am always willing to listen, and learn.

Building Permits; Stick ‘Em Up

Stick ‘em Up

Kim Fahey was recently convicted of a dozen misdemeanor building code infractions last month, in Los Angeles County. He faces several years in prison unless he tears down his “Phonehenge West”.

Fahey said his constitutional right to do what he wants on his property is being trampled, calling that the real issue in his fight with the county – not his colorful personality or his penchant for building odd-looking buildings.

While we may “own” our property, in most parts of the country, building permits must be acquired, prior to construction of your new pole building.

Pole Building Permit

Check your local permit process

Now what defines a “building permit” and the investment in one varies greatly.

Much of our country is not much different than here in rural Roberts County, South Dakota. Here, we take in a crude drawing on the back of a cocktail napkin and for a few dollars (and under five minutes), we have a permit in hand. Low cost, no inspections, pretty hard to beat.

This is certainly not the case everywhere. In Mr. Fahey’s county, I’ve had permits sit in the “IN” basket on a plans examiner’s desk for nine months before they even have a chance to be looked at. In another California county, it took one of our clients nearly 13 months to obtain a permit to construct an 800 square foot pole barn!

The cost can be “all over the board” as well. How sad it was for us, when one of our clients, in the City of Seattle, had to downsize his pole building garage. Originally planned as 24’ x 30’, the cost of the permit was so high, he had to cut his building down to 24’ square! He lost 20% of what he wanted to build, just due to building permit costs.

Early in your budgeting process, contact your local Building Department. In most cases they can give you an estimate of the costs and effort involved to obtain the building permit for your new pole building.

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